Review: Netflix’s The Half of It touches on several issues
Though the film's messages are strong, it's too serious to fall under the "comedy" genre
May 18, 2020
Directed by Alice Wu, The Half of It had potential to be Netflix’s new rom-com hit of the season. The film covers several serious subjects, and after seeing that the genre of the film was labeled as a “coming-of-age comedy,” I was a bit perplexed because the film did not seem to fall under that category as the storylines were far too pensive.
The film follows the introverted and intelligent high school senior, Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis). She’s a Chinese immigrant who has lived in the small town of Squahamish, Washington since she was five, and she doesn’t fit in among the town’s conservative white majority. Despite this, Ellie is still fairly well-known around her school, as she has taken up writing students’ essays for cash payments in order to support her dad. One day, Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer), a daft but good-hearted football player asks Ellie to write his crush, Aster, a love letter.
At first, Ellie willfully declined the task, but when she got a call from the electricity company stating that her family’s dues were late and she owed $50, she agreed to help Paul. The “unlikely” duo become wrapped up in a ghost-writing pursuit to capture the affection of Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire) and form a lovely friendship. As they delve into the life of Aster, in hopes of finding a commonality with Paul, Ellie realizes that she actually has a lot more in common with her and develops a crush of her own. This goes unnoticed by Paul until, of course, everything comes crumbling down.
Though the plot seemed intriguing when I read the synopsis , the movie somehow failed to keep me entertained. The film felt incredibly long and the characters were quite dull and unlikeable, and didn’t exactly live up to its advertised “comedy” genre. It simply wasn’t what I was expecting. The movie wasn’t light-hearted enough to be the coming-of-age comedy it was said to be. There were moments where I did let out a giggle, but for the vast majority, I was kind of bored as I hadn’t prepared my mind to watch something so deep.
The writing itself was somewhat clichéd, being that I found myself rolling my eyes and finishing the actor’s lines as they were saying them more than five times. The plot had so much potential that I actually felt bad for not enjoying the movie to a full extent. Everything that came out of the characters’ mouths was much too familiar, so it was difficult for me to concentrate on anything else.
I think this movie is a good watch if you really pay attention to the message and enjoy sitting down for a well-executed coming-of-age film. It truly does shed light on modern day problems in a beautiful way.The movie represents the LGBTQ+ community in a raw and real light with an emotional complexity that does the topic on teenage sexuality its much-deserved justice, all while teaching valuable lessons on friendship, love and self-acceptance. It even touches on the struggle immigrants to the United States face in today’s society with the expectation to fully assimilate into American culture.
There’s a lot of serious stuff to unpack in this movie, and for this reason, the movie is simply is too far-reaching to fit into the comedy genre that it is disclosed as and is actually more of a drama. It’s a good movie overall, but not something I would typically recommend.
Hanna Malone is a Junior Staff Writer for the Knight Writers and RHSToday. She plays guitar and writes songs in her free time.